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Connecting Tairāwhiti project update


Above: The repaired Mangahauini Bridge


Communities reconnected but we're not there yet

Though communities have been reconnected following the March and April weather events, the road to recovery for the Tairawhiti state highway network will be long and State Highway 35 won’t look the same in the future.

The March weather event had the most significant impact on Gisborne’s main state highway connection since the devastating damage brought by Cyclone Bola, 34 years ago. It’s also the latest of six significant weather events for the region in the past 12 months. The priority for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency remains maintaining the access for our East Coast communities.

The efforts of contractors and resilience of the East Coast communities have been remarkable, with hundreds involved in the repair and cleanup work on the highway. The immediate response was led by Waka Kotahi maintenance contractor Downer, with everyone pitching in to do their bit, from traffic management, arborists and those operating excavators and graders, to mana whenua, Civil Defence and community groups.

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) and 2018-21 National Land Transport Fund allocated $13.5 million to the SH35 Resilience project with the aim of strengthening and stabilising some of the corridor’s most problematic areas.

A number of these projects were underway before the weather event and have been severely impacted. As we move into the wetter, winter months, a lot of the necessary repair work will need to wait until more favourable weather arrives with the next construction season. Waka Kotahi National Journey Manager Helen Harris says the highway is open, but not necessarily pretty.

“What you see on our network will be like this for some time. The road is still down to a single lane in some places, with sections of unsealed road, signs, traffic lights, cones and temporary speed limits.

“This will be a lengthy recovery and as with our immediate response the longer-term plan will be a combined effort with mana whenua, communities and council partners. Our teams have worked night and day, through relentless weather and challenging working conditions to reconnect our communities, but there are still a lot of repairs needed.

“We ask that people continue to drive with care and keep an eye out for our worksites and our contractors."




Above: The Tokomaru Bay to Te Puia Springs section of SH35 was most significantly impacted by the weather, with the Mangahauini River causing substantial erosion and dropouts, and washing a Mangahauini Bridge abutment away, leaving a 16-metre wide gap in the highway and cutting access to communities north of Tokomaru Bay.




Above: Thanks to a mammoth effort by contractors, the Mangahauini Bridge at Tokomaru Bay was repaired and communities reconnected in just ten days.




Above: To show some appreciation for the local legends responsible for repairing the highway network, Waka Kotahi put on a barbecue—a small gesture with a big thanks behind it.



About Connecting Tairāwhiti

The Connecting Tairāwhiti programme is focused on working together with regional and community partners to significantly improve safety and driver experience on our state highways, create employment opportunities, and provide a more resilient roading network for local communities.

Connecting Tairāwhiti projects are part of the Tairāwhiti Roading Package, funded by Kanoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit. You can see more about all the Connecting Tairāwhiti projects on our interactive map here.

Here are some of the great companies we are working with:



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You have received this newsletter because you have either subscribed via our website, you attended a 'SH35 Have Your Say' consultation event and gave us your contact details, or you have been involved in the development of the Connecting Tairāwhiti programme. If you do not wish to receive these newsletters in future, please click unsubscribe at the end of this email.

This newsletter will be sent to subscribers every few months and includes updates on active projects, upcoming projects and stories about how our work helps improve access to and across the Tairāwhiti region for locals, visitors and businesses alike.

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For more information or to give feedback, email

Explore our Connecting Tairāwhiti map 

Visit our Connecting Tairāwhiti website

Visit our Passing Opportunities webpage 

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